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Growth and inspiration: How CRM Partners use Microsoft Inspire to help grow and adapt their business for success in the modern marketplace

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CRM Partners

CRM Partners, a Microsoft partner based in the Netherlands and specializing in customer engagement and digital transformation on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 platform, has worked exclusively with Microsoft technology throughout their 11-year history. Headquartered in the Netherlands, CRM Partners also has a strong presence in Germany and is actively working to expand further internationally.

A Microsoft partner since their founding, CRM Partners was founded with a unique approach to CRM implementations, an approach grounded in an understanding of the customers’ business. CRM Partners privileges this understanding of their customers’ business cases in order to rationalize what has traditionally been a very technical implementation into something their customers can understand and apply to their business.

This approach is grounded in CRM Partners’ philosophy regarding digital transformation and the role powerful CRM solutions can play in that transition. CRM Partners understands that a successful Digital transformation depends on a customer’s ability to change their mindset alongside their technology.

“We prioritize customer engagement because we know that ultimately digital transformations for our customers are also human transformations. We don’t see ourselves as technical consultants but rather, as business consultants who are working to change our customers’ attitudes towards their own customers while providing them the tools to transform how they engage with those customers.” – Rik Dubbink, Partner & CTO, CRM Partners

We prioritize customer engagement because we know that ultimately digital transformations for our customers are also human transformations.

- Rik Dubbink, Partner & CTO, CRM Partners

The benefits of Inspire – aligning your business priorities

CRM Partners first began with 3 constituent founders: Rik Dubbink, Emiel Putman and a blank piece of paper. Starting a company from scratch is a daunting task, and Dubbink still has the first note he ever made, asking questions like, ‘What courses do I need to take on Dynamics CRM? Who are my first customers? Who do I need to hire?’

Starting on the 1st of September, Dubbink convinced Putnam that one of them needed to go to WPC. They settled on Dubbink, who attended the 1st of many Microsoft WPCs (now Inspire) looking for inspiration, information, and a direction to take his young company.

“I attended every session I could think of. There was so much information to learn about how the ecosystem worked and what the products were. WPC was a great kickoff because suddenly we moved from a blank piece of paper to knowing, ‘OK, there is a partner program, how do we become part of it? There are incentives, how do we qualify?’” – Rik Dubbink, Partner & CTO, CRM Partners

Since then, Dubbink and his team have been to many WPCs and plan on attending Microsoft Inspire this year in Washington D.C.. In the first 7 years following that first WPC, Dubbink’s team had grown to over 60 employees. His team still attended WPC, but whereas before they had sought information about how they could get off the ground, now they sought inspiration for what to do next.

In 2014, Dubbink and his team attended WPC where they saw a recently selected Satya Nadella articulate a new mission statement – to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Cloud transformation was highlighted as the catalyst to reaching this goal. Dubbink knew then that as CRM Partners continued to grow, it would be crucial for his business to make the transition to cloud technologies, and would accelerate their growth to align to that vision.

Heading into 2017, CRM Partners has seen tremendous success, growing to a firm containing 3 separate companies, two in the Netherlands and one in Germany. Most recently, Dubbink and his team met with and acquired another Microsoft partner who they met in Toronto at WPC 2016. As they continue to adapt their organization to accommodate a growing market for cloud solutions, CRM Partners has had to work to constantly adapt their own organization, re-envisioning it to accommodate their own growth and success while keeping their mission and initial vision intact.

Accelerating with success – adapting your business as it grows and evolves

When growing your business, it pays to align your company for tomorrow’s successes rather than the problems of today. Dubbink and his team have experienced tremendous success and growth over their 11-year lifespan, and have continued to thrive as a larger organization with a future-facing mindset that never stops planning for what’s next.

“When growing and adapting your business to that growth, you need to always be working with a clear vision in mind. 3 years ago, we had a revenue of about 9 million euros and our mindset was, ‘you know what, we need to make our company ready for 20 million euros in revenue.’ We didn’t treat this as something to aspire to, we treated it as an inevitability and we planned accordingly. We added a serious finance department and a full-time HR department who can set policies. We restructured our operations to scale smoothly to higher capacities and hired more project managers to ensure our projects would still run to the high expectations we had established as a small firm with our customers.” – Rik Dubbink, Partner & CTO, CRM Partners

This preparation has served CRM Partners well as they have grown and adapted their organization to the cloud revolution. The moment after they attended WPC in 2014, CRM Partners got to work, ensuring their organization was ready to transition to Dynamics 365.

Seizing a new revenue model

CRM Partners attitude and grit has persisted as they continue their shift to implementing Dynamics 365 solutions, with an added caveat – selling cloud solutions require a change in business model in addition to a shift in how the technology is deployed. CRM Partners has begun developing their own IP and putting it on AppSource. While they have not yet rolled out an official marketing campaign to evangelize this new IP, Dubbink has already seen a glimpse of the tremendous potential this model offers his business.

“We have only been live on AppSource for about 6 weeks now but already we see the potential. Despite how relatively new the platform is, we are already generating leads and deals from the marketplace. We can’t even imagine what the volume would look like if we started to make some marketing noise around the IP – for now we are working as an organization to prepare for an increase in volume from this source to avoid drowning in our own success.” – Rik Dubbink, Partner & CTO, CRM Partners

Dubbink’s story is relevant to Microsoft partners looking to grow their organization and evolve along with their technology. By aligning their organization to their vision of their own success, CRM Partners has realized this vision – building a successful, 180 person organization from two partners and a blank sheet of paper. Despite this success, CRM Partners is careful not to dwell too much on the past; as always, their eyes are looking to the future.

“For us, success is dreaming with your eyes open. You can achieve any goal if you believe it is realistic and you pursue it with the expectation that it will come true and the determination to make it so.” – Rik Dubbink, Partner & CTO, CRM Partners

For us, success is dreaming with your eyes open. You can achieve any goal if you believe it is realistic and pursue it with the expectation that it will come true and the determination to make it so.

- Rik Dubbink, Partner & CTO, CRM Partners

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